In my mind, Read to Self is the single most important task I have my firsties doing each and every day! At the end of the day, I feel confident knowing that each of my little friends read here at school.
The other really helpful thing I did relies on information from Kindergarten teachers. We're given end-of-year guided reading levels for our incoming first graders. I use this information to fill each child's box with 8-10 books that are in the range of what I think might be the child's "good fit books." It takes me about an hour to dig through books I've set aside for beginning of the year book tubs, but it is so worth it! It makes life a lot easier as we're just getting started with building our stamina for Read to Self. We'll start talking about good fit books very early in the year, but I've found that, especially with 1st graders, I really need to help them at the beginning.
Where will your students get the books for their individual book tubs? Honestly, I struggle with this! I have a very, very, very hard time telling a child, "No, you can't put that in your book tub." However, I firmly believe children should be reading "good fit books," which includes interest AND reading level. I have an extensive classroom library, but I also have plastic tubs full of books that I've "leveled." Now, I've been reading up on leveled books. (Side note! Have you read Beyond Leveled Books by Franki Sibberson, Karen Szymuiak, and Lisa Koch? Lots to think about, in a good way!) I do agree with the research that children need to be reading more than just leveled books, so I have incorporated that into the tubs. But I'm having a hard time just "letting go" and allowing my 6 and 7 year olds to just choose books from anywhere around the room. I'll keep working on that! :)
Inside of each tub, you will find a variety of books, genres and levels. Most of the books are regular trade books that I've collected over the years that I've "leveled." These are the very rough estimates of what I have (Fountas & Pinnell kind of levels.)
Blue: preA (pictures and captions, wordless books) - D
Orange: I-L, easy chapter books like Henry & Mudge, Poppleton
Red: J-M, beginning chapter books
Red Red: M-O, Chapter books
Purple: More difficult chapter books
I intentionally have some overlap so that children are still looking within the tub to find books that they can read and that are a "good fit" for them.
How will your children get books for their book tubs? For the most part, my children "shop for books" each week. This year, we all shopped on Fridays for about 20 minutes. I direct each child towards the tub I think best fits their needs. However, if they find a book on the regular bookshelves that they just HAVE to try, they certainly can! During this time, I circulate so I can answer questions, make recommendations, and guide children who need help. By the middle of the year, it's so fun to see them taking over my duties and recommending books to each other, swapping titles, and encouraging others to try something new!
You might also want to think about where your children will read. Define the areas that are acceptable. Is it okay to sit under the tables? On top of the tables? Under the coat racks? Do you have areas that are "off limits"? In the teacher chair? This will help when you start brainstorming your I-charts for Read to Self with the kids.
I think that covers what I would suggest doing to prepare yourself for the Daily 5's Read to Self! Comments? Questions? Aha moments? :) Coming next... getting ready for Work on Writing! Stay tuned!